Review: Message From The Skies, various sites, Edinburgh…

It’s a show with a subtitle, this powerful piece of storytelling combined with installation art, playing around 12 locations in Edinburgh city centre through the dark winter month between New Year’s Day and Burns Night. Its other name is New Year’s Resurrection; and its text, by the great crime novelist Val McDermid, is not only a tribute to a city famous for its dramatic clashes between elegant enlightenment and dark criminality, but a plea to resurrect the reputation of generations of women writers who have too often been forgotten, in the litany of Edinburgh’s famous male literary stars. Message From The Skies, various sites, Edinburgh *** So we begin at Parliament Square with a brief introduction to the dark-and-light horror story of Burke and Hare, before visiting the National Library for a list of male writers, suddenly interrupted. Then, at Lady Stair’s Close, we finally meet the central character of the evening’s entertainment, the 19th century novelist Susan Edmonstone Ferrier who – with some help later on from the inimitable Muriel Spark – leads us through a journey from the Mound (where we cheerfully watch the Scott Monument crumble), to Calton Road, York Place and the New Town, where Ferrier lived out the last years of her life.

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To celebrate the start of Book Week, we ask Scotland’s big names for their best reads…

FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week revealed her favourite book of the year – The Heart’s Invisible Furies, by Irish author John Boyne.

She said the novel, about an adopted boy growing up in 1940s Ireland, was more than just the story of one man.

“The novel begins in 1945, and ends just as Ireland votes to legalise gay marriage – a country making peace with its past,” she said.

“It is a beautifully written epic and will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.”
Over the past decade we’ve seen Kindle devices compete with the old-fashioned physical book.
But it’s not the only way our reading habits have changed, according to Waterstones.
Angie Crawford is the Scottish buying manager for the giant book retailer.

“Over the last decade, we’ve seen different trends – ten years ago misery memoirs were all the rage, we loved a good celeb biography and football memoir,” she explained.

“Now these may take more of a back seat as we curl up with crime fiction.

“In the Scottish market we have seen the growth of detective fiction with big names such as Ian Rankin, Peter May and Val McDermid.”

And although electronic devices were widely predicted to be the death knell for paper books, Angie reckons physical copies will continue to sell.

“Electronic reading has its place and can be a convenience for readers packing for their summer holidays but our infatuation with e-reading has plateaued,” said Angie. “Nothing can beat getting your physical book signed by the author. Our experience is that readers use a combination of both but the physical book wins!”

Tomorrow is the start of Book Week Scotland and to mark it we asked writers and celebrities to tell us their favourite novels.

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‘It seems to be taboo to say some kids are just bad’: Crime writer Denise Mina on her story for new book Bloody Scotland…

ONE of Scotland’s leading crime writers, Denise Mina, is used to putting her fans through the wringer.

But it was her turn to feel the chill when she visited Edinburgh Castle to research a story.

She said: “My pal and I were given a behind-the-scenes tour to all the parts visitors don’t see, like John Maclean’s cell, wooden walkways above a sheer cliff and toilets that soldiers used which had an 80ft drop.
“It felt like a real honour and privilege that we got to see it.
“The guide also took us to David’s Tower, which is the oldest part of the castle.
“We went down this shoogly 50ft staircase. He told us it was safe but it was swinging.

“I’m not great with heights and I wanted to stop half way down and start crying. It was like gripping on to a cliff face.”

Denise, from Glasgow, was one of 12 Tartan Noir authors asked to write a story set in an iconic Scottish location for new book, Bloody Scotland.

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